Will a Spouse's Bad Credit Hurt My Score?

I married someone with bad credit. Will it affect my credit? How does that work?

I married someone with bad credit. Will it affect my/our credit? How does all that work?

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Bill's Answer
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  • Exercise caution before being added to an account with a bad payment history.
  • Review which spouse is responsible for debt in one spouse's name.
  • Understand the risks of co-signing.

Thank you for your question about how your credit rating is affected by your spouse's bad credit.

Accounts are Reported to Cardholder's Credit Report

Do not worry about your personal credit score going bad because of your spouse's bad credit score. The only time your credit would be reported jointly would be if you applied for joint credit in the future. Even then a credit report would still identify those credit items that you were solely responsible for and those that your partner was responsible for.

Co-borrower's are Jointly Responsible

You will each continue to have your own credit file. If you apply for loans/credit as an individual, they will only look at your credit record. If you apply jointly for a loan as co-borrowers, they will look at both your reports, but they would do the same thing if you were not married and applying for a joint loan.

Generally speaking, simply marrying a person with a poor credit history will not damage the spouse's credit. The only way that I can foresee your credit being affected by your spouse's poor credit history is if you added yourself as an authorized user on any of your spouse's accounts with less-than-perfect payment histories. If you're added to any of your partner's accounts with that have delinquent payment histories, these accounts could appear on your credit report as well, thereby damaging your credit score.

Having a Co-signer Can Help Build Credit Score

On the other hand, you may be able to help improve your spouse's credit score by adding him/her as an authorized user on some of your healthy credit card accounts, or by co-signing on a small loan with them, such as an unsecured personal loan. You can use your good credit to help you establish new credit lines, which should have a positive influence on your partner's credit score.

Risks of Co-signing

Co-signing on a loan is not something I normally recommend, because of the risks that the co-signer takes. Before anyone agrees to co-sign on a loan, please read all about .

You and your spouse will find a great Bills.com article describing ways to improve/build credit entitled . If you seek a home loan, read .

If you would like to find out more about credit, credit scoring, and ways to improve your credit, I also encourage you to visit the page at Bills.com.

I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.

Best,

Bill

103 Comments

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  • 35x35
    Sep, 2012
    Candace
    Hi there. I have a question. I'm engaged to be married in Nov of this year. Here's the thing: I'm planning to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy this month (Sept 2012). The thing is my fiance is in the process of building a house. To help with this process, he is acquiring an FHA (I believe this is right) loan. Now, I am NOT on any of the paperwork for the house or anything, but I do want to know will me filing affect him? As of right now, we're scared that we're going to have to put the wedding off till after the house is built?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2012
      Bill
      I do not see how a chapter 7 or 13 you file in September, before your November marriage, can have an impact on what I surmise is either an FHA construction loan, or an FHA 203K loan. Typically, FHA construction loans close before construction begins. If the loan closes before the November marriage then I cannot foresee circumstances where the lender would have a reason to ask about, or be given notice of your bankruptcy.

      If the loan closes after the wedding and you live in a community property state, then the lender may express a concern about your bankruptcy, even though you are not a borrower. However, that should not scuttle the loan if, as you mentioned, you are not the borrower, but the borrower's spouse.

      I suggest that your fiance ask a direct question to his loan officer, so he hears straight from his lender whether or not there is a potential problem with your filing for BK.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2012
    Tina
    My husband and I moved into a new home in 2000. We went through a new home owners program that required us to do two mortgages (don't ask). Unfortunately, at the time my credit was too bad to do the loan jointly, however, when I received the payment booklets I filled out information such as my SS# and I can't remember what else in the payment voucher book and voila!, my name is on the second mortgage.

    Now my husband and I are filing for divorce, can I get this mortgage removed from my credit?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2012
    Will
    I recently relocated out of state and forgot to have my bills sent to my current address. In the rush of the move and rush of life, I have completely neglected a few of my financial obligations for the last two months, and I am just now starting to catch up. I recently learned that a student loan of mine has defaulted, and I have several late payments on a few other bills. My fiance is wanting to get married, she has PHENOMENAL credit and the last thing I want to do is ruin her credit. Though I am starting to pick up the pieces, I think it will be quite sometime before I have DECENT credit. What should I do? Please Help me! Thanks!
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Apr, 2012
      Bill
      Each person's credit score is based on accounts that are managed in their own name. Your past activities will not affect your fiance, as long as she was not a responsible party to those accounts. You should work on improving your credit. If you feel that a creditor will sue you, then avoid having joint bank accounts.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Apr, 2012
      Bill
      Marriage does not create a "joint credit score." Nor does Spouse A's poor credit history sully Spouse B's pristine credit history or score when they walk down the aisle. Spouse A can have terrible credit for the duration of a marriage while Spouse B's credit score remains high in the clouds.

      Focus on paying your new delinquent accounts first — they are likely causing the most damage. Then focus on getting your delinquent student loan rehabilitated.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Apr, 2012
      Vicky
      It looks like you got the answers you were seeking regarding the effect of your credit on your fiance's credit, so I will tell you what I know about getting that default off of your record. You may already know this, but just in case you don't (!) here goes:

      You can probably "rehabilitate" your student loan, which will remove the delinquency from your credit report. I did this. I called my loan servicing company (Great Lakes, Direct Loans . ..), and I told them that I wished to rehab my defaulted student loan. They put me on an affordable payment plan (in my case, $60/month). Once I make that payment, on time, for 9 months in a row, they will reinstate my student loan, putting me back on a typical repayment plan, and the defaulted student loan will be completely removed from my credit report, as if it never happened. And if, by some horrible strike of luck, you are late on a payment, they will STILL work with you!

      Unfortunately, making these monthly payments on time for 9 months will not help me to build positive credit on my report, nor will it do anything to make the student loan default look any better before the end of the 9 month period, because this rehab repayment program does NOT show up on my credit report. I will have to wait the 9 months before there will be any effect on my credit record. I wanted to get a car loan, or perhaps a lease on a new apartment, and this student loan default were keeping me from qualifying, I might make use of the following information:

      I have a contract/agreement in my possession that which documents my enrollment in the rehabilitation program, and many of the details, such as my monthly payment amount and the date in which my default will be (presumably) removed from my credit record. I would imagine that I could get a letter, if requested, from my student loan servicing company, which stated that thus far, all of my payments have been on time. Another alternative would be to print out my bank statement, showing that I have been making each payment on time. I could also add this information in the comments section on my credit report. This information might be enough to convince a creditor to overlook the default. No guarantees.

      I set up auto-pay with my bank, so that my rehab payment would never be late, b/c I, too, was guilty of getting busy and forgetting about it. (I had cancer and was dealing with surgery and chemo, etc, and forgot that my deferment was coming to an end . . . then . . .DEFAULT! OUCH!)

      After you have made your final (9th) payment, your student loan will be reinstated and it will go back to a normal status. This means that you will get a new repayment plan. If you are worried about being able to make your payments, there are always deferments and forbearances which can be requested. However, I would recommend the fairly new income based repayment plan. Your monthly payment can actually be as low as $ZERO if your income is low enough. The advantage to this is that you will not "use up" your limited number of forbearances and deferments.

      The disadvantage is, of course, that you will still be paying interest, and the government will not pay the interest on the subsidized portion of your loans if you have any.

      I was pleasantly surprised at how willing they were to help me to get back on track.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Mar, 2012
    Lilly
    My husband has great credit. Before we got married, my mother was in the hospital for months. I took care of her and let everything else go, so mine is pretty bad. I do not want my bad credit to affect his good credit. We have been married for just over a year, so this is the first time we have filed taxes since our wedding. I make quite a bit more money than he does through my regular job. He derives most of his income from a home-based business that I started this past year that he manages now mostly on his own. It has been very successful. We have not incorporated. Because I began it, everything initially was in my name, even though he receive most of the income. Therefore, I received the 1099 from our biggest client. No taxes withheld. I am worried if I file our taxes jointly, my husband's credit will be adversely affected. I am worried if we don't, I am going to owe a lot because the new business appears to be my business, even though he mainly benefits. I am hoping after reading this post that maybe filing jointly wouldn't affect his credit? Thank you very much!
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Apr, 2012
      Bill
      Filing taxes jointly will not automatically create a link between your credit score and his credit score. However, if you file jointly and create a tax liability that is not met in a timely matter, then you could face having a tax lien placed on yourself and your husband. This would negatively affect his credit score. I recommend that you speak with a tax professional as to the best way to prepare your tax returns, and set up your business. If you pay all your taxes on time and deal promptly with any tax issues, then you should not have any problems.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2012
    Jessica
    My husband opend up a business, I did not sign any papers not under my name but the only thing is the business bank account he put it under both names.. I was thinking about removing my self because I don't do anything with it... He does owe a lot off things, they just sent him a letter from a law office and they sent it under both of our names, he owes a company.. What should I do?I'm working on my own plz hel me
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2012
      Bill
      Go to the bank with your spouse and close the business account and ask him to open account in his name only. Have a heart-to-heart with your spouse and ask how the business is organized: sole proprietorship, partnership, or some form of corporation? Ask if and where your name appears in any of the business' financial records or other noteworthy records.

      Take what you learn to a lawyer in your area who has family law experience to learn your liability. Or return here and tell us what you learned.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2012
    Heather
    My partner and I have been contemplating when to get married. He had a house he foreclosed on 2 years ago. I have a great credit score but work part time and don't make much. I'm hesitant to get married because of his credit score but then would I be able to include his income?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2012
      Bill
      His bad credit does not harm your credit. If you need his income to qualify for a loan, then his bad credit will prevent you from obtaining financing on a joint application. If your income is insufficient to qualify, then you need to wait for his credit to improve, and for there to be enough time to pass after his foreclosure, so lenders will view him favorably.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2012
    Amber
    Hi There! I have a health insurance bill that is currently in collections that I will not pay because it the hospital is double dipping, and the agency is saying that it will not only affect my credit, but it will also damage my husbands? Is this true, will it mess with his or was it just another scare tactic?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2012
      Bill
      Did your spouse sign a guarantor agreement when you checked into the hospital? If so, then the collection agency's claim is a fact. If you live in one of the 40 common law family law states, then the claim is much more far-fetched, but not impossible if the medical procedure was non-elective. If you live in a community property state, or a state with a doctrine of necessaries law, then the claim is plausible.

      I realize you want a simple yes or no answer. The law does not always work that way, especially for questions like yours.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2012
    Kevin
    Quick question. I'm having my brother co-sign on an auto loan, will the finance company only look at his credit or do they combine mine and is somehow?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jan, 2012
      Bill
      The underwriter will most likely pull the credit reports on both co-signers.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jan, 2012
      Kevin
      Thank you.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2012
    Carol
    My husband is an authorized user on 1 account of mine and I on 1 of his. My credit is better than his and continues to improve and I suspect that his is about to decline even further. Is removing him from authorized user on my account and myself on his account enough to save my credit or is it too late or do I need to do anything else???? We don't have any joint credit card accounts.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jan, 2012
      Bill
      You are asking about what is called piggybacking in the credit report business. Click on the hyperlink I just mentioned to learn more about how a status change in an account can harm or help the credit score of an authorized user.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2012
    Emmie
    My husband's credit is not good and he is making payments on money he owes. We do not have joint accounts and I just recently added myself to his car insurance, that is the ONLY thing that both our name is on. Does that make me eligible for the credit people to come after me for money? I did not think of this before, but it was cheaper for us to have both cars insured together, so i went for it. Now I am thinking that it might not have been a good idea? Thanks so much!
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jan, 2012
      Bill
      Being listed on a debtor's insurance does not make you financially or legally responsible for the debtor's liabilities. However, being married to a debtor can, in community property states, make the community's assets at risk. If your spouse is in formal payment agreements with his creditors, he is not at risk for a lawsuit that could lead to a judgment, followed by a wage garnishment or bank levy.

      If he is sued by anyone, you took the proper step to protect yourself by keeping separate bank accounts. Your wages will be off-limits, should a judgment against him be obtained.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jan, 2012
      Emmie
      That's what I needed to know, thank you :)
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Dec, 2011
    Dianne
    I have been married for almost 2 years now but my husband and I don't have any joint accounts. I'm afraid to have joint accounts with him because of his low credit score. It's required by law for us to have a joint bank accounts as a proof that our marriage is legit since I am not here from US. He has a checking account and debit card accounts I'm hesitant to be added to his account because I'm afraid that I might have the same credit score as his. If I have my name added as a second cardholer to his checking account and debit cards will it affect my score in the future? Please advise. Thank you. I haven't opened any bank accounts here in US because I haven't had any jobs ever since I got here. I'm planning to open bank account and start building my credit score as soon as a get a job.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Dec, 2011
      Bill
      You are correct, by adding your name to your husband's account it will be difficult for you to build up a good credit score.

      I recommend that you read bills article about building credit from scratch. Getting a secured card, with a small limit to begin with is a good starting place. Budget carefully and avoid overdraft protection facilities. If you want to protect yourself from your husband's bad usage of credit, then open a joint account that does not have any credit options associated with it. Make clear to the bank officials that you are seeking an account that does not include any credit cards or credit facilities that have not been approved by all account owners. Make sure that the bank provides these assurances in writing.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2011
    My husband is trying to establish his credit but needs a car desperately, I've decided to purchase his car under my name and wait atleast a year until his credit re-establish. He applied for two credit cards and was approved for $300. Can pruchasing a car under my name affect my credit if I decided to lease a car for me?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Nov, 2011
      Bill
      Because your credit was used to purchase your husband's car, the monthly car payment will both appear on your credit report and be used when calculating your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. If the payment is always made in a timely manner, that will help your credit score. However, it could be the case that the new car payment lowers your DTI to the point where it affects your ability to qualify for the car lease. It all depends on how much you earn and what other debts appear on your credit report.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2011
    Kay
    My husband just recently added me as a user on one of his credit cards. I have a weaker credit history than he does- will this affect his credit score?
    1 Votes

    • 35x35
      Nov, 2011
      Bill
      No, the primary card holder's credit score will not be affected. You mentioned your credit score is weak. If the primary's credit score is strong, the secondary's credit score will improve. However, if the primary's score starts to suffer due to delinquencies and so on, the secondary's score will be harmed. My point is, this sword has two edges.

      Maintaining a good credit score takes work. Monitor your credit reports and read Bills.com great information about improving your credit score.
      1 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2011
    Jennifer
    My husband has gotten himself into a LOT of financial trouble while not working. I have kept the household bills current, and the mortgage and our current car are in my name ONLY and always have been. We have also ALWAYS had seperate bank accounts. His car was recently repo'd - he had it before we ever got married. We live in a community property state. Can they come after my house, bank accounts, or car?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2011
    Genevie
    After being with Direct Tv for 3 mths I terminated my service with them. However I was charged $380 for remainder of the 24 mths of the contract. I paid $205 and was remaining a balance of $175. I arranged for a postdated payment of the remaining $175. I then received a bill from Direct Tv showing the payment received and amount now due $0. That was in July. Pulled my credit report couple days ago and noticed that Direct Tv without warning has added the debt to my credit report. I checked my bank account and noticed that the $175 did not go through. Should I sent a pay for debt letter to Direct Tv or dispute the collection on my account with the letter I received showing that the bill was paid and that it was a zero balance.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Nov, 2011
      Bill
      A pay for delete sounds like a great solution for both parties.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Nov, 2011
      Genevie
      Thank you for your prompt response. I will go ahead and proceed with he pay for delete.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2011
    Bear
    My wife racked up my credit cards, and got another under her name. I got the cards cleaned up with the help of a loan from a family member. I am making $750/month Mortgage payments, $550/month line of credit payments and $1000/month to the family member. CIBC says they won't consolidate the debts to help me out because of an R9 rating the wife has incurred on us both but CIBC is still happy to take my monthly payments. Any idea how to get around this?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Nov, 2011
      Bill
      Your bank has no obligation to consolidate your mortgage loans and generally will not want refinance a borrower with bad credit and is also making timely payments.

      Your first step should be to improve your credit score. As the bad items on your credit report become older they will have less influence on your score. It is very important to make your mortgage and line of credit payments on time. As your score increases so will your opportunities to refinance, either with CIBC or another bank. You may need to be proactive with the lender and emphasize, if applicable, the positive aspects of your application, such as income stability, low LTV or low Debt to Income ratio.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Nov, 2011
      Bear
      Thanks Bill. I guess what really irks me is that we have never missed a mortgage or line of credit payment and..whats worse is the only crime I did was having my name on the credit cards, and trusting my wife of 27 years. I had no idea she racked up the cards like that until our credit rating was bad. Now CIBC treats me like a criminal.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Nov, 2011
      Bill
      I realize you were being facetious, but I will state the following anyway for readers who may read your comment literally: Delinquent credit card debt is not a criminal offense.

      My advice? Monitor your credit score. This will enable you to avoid surprises in the future.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2011
    Erin
    My mom has a bank account which she added my name to a couple of years ago incase something were to happen. I have never had to use the account. She is the only one that actually uses it, but I can see it online when I check my other accounts. Withthin these couple of years she has had mutiple overdrafts and overdraft fees. Is this going to affect me in the future? How is this going to affect my credit and being able to get loans? Should I take my name off of the account? I don't know what to do or how this is affecting me.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Oct, 2011
      Bill
      If this is a joint checking or savings account, then it is unlikely that overdrafts will impact your credit score. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com to receive no-cost, no-gimmick, no-sign-up-for-anything copies of your credit report from each of the three major consumer credit reporting agencies. If the account in question appears on your credit profile, then it will impact your credit score.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2011
    Stephanie
    I share a house with my boyfriend and a friend. The only reason we are renting a house with a friend is so that we can all save money. (We're saving for a mortgage desposit). Our friend gets bank letters, debt letters and bailiff/legal actions letters all the time. He often fails to pay us he part of the bills and rent. Please can you tell me if sharing a house with a person with a a bad credit rating and legal issue alike will affect our credit rating? Thank you
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Oct, 2011
      Bill
      For US residents, the answer to your question is no, a deadbeat roommate's poor credit hygiene will not harm the credit score of his or her roommates. Your e-mail address indicates you may reside outside of the US. If so, consult with the consumer credit reporting agencies (credit bureaus) in your country to learn what laws and policies apply to you.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2011
    Julie
    If I wish to consolidate my credit card debt, will it affect my husbands ability to purchase a house alone (without me)?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Oct, 2011
      Bill
      Are any of the accounts you plan to enroll in the debt management plan (DMP) or the debt settlement program jointly held with your spouse? If yes, then your spouse's credit score and credit report will be negatively impacted. If no, and you have no jointly held accounts you plan to enroll, then there will be no credit score or credit report impact.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2011
    Rachael
    I tried to apply for a small car loan In solely my name about 3,500.00 which I would have paid off easily less than a year, but I don't have any credit and my husband is in the military and so I am trying to establish credit with my Military Star Card. I've been using it a lot, but monitoring the spending and only spending what I can already pay for, and then I pay the monthly payments, and usually just leave 5.00 or so a month so the interest doesn't kill me... however I get the bank's reply back from my loan and says I get denied because of account delinquency. I have no idea why it is on my account. I do know my husband has one from a small school loan, and it didn't get handled correctly while he was in basic training, but we weren't married then. The only thing I can think of is that I was added to his bank account as an authorized user that had past negative balances before I was put on there. But that doesn't happen anymore. We are stationed in Germany right now too, and had to open up a german bank account so the routing number would work on the economy. So we do have a lot of accounts open 2 joints and 1 individual for me and my school account. And some haven't been active for a few months, but isn't delinquencies only for credit card accounts? I'm just trying to figure out why my credit report is saying that I haven't been paying my bills when I never had any!
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Oct, 2011
      Bill
      You have a right, when turned down for credit, to get a free credit report. I suggest that you start by getting the free report and examining what is on it, so you can figure out to which delinquency the car financing company was referring. If your report is inaccurate, take the right steps to dispute the errant information on your credit report.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2011
    jennifer
    Before my husband and I got married, he bought a house. He is now thinking about forclosing on the house. I am not on the mortgage or included in any of the mortgage paperwork. If he forcloses on the house, will this affect me getting a house in my own name at a later date? My credit is much better than his. He is also currently in a chapter 13 bankruptcy. His lawyer says that he can still include the forclosure in the bankruptcy and that I and my credit will not be affected. Can the mortgage company come after me due to "marital interest"?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Oct, 2011
      Bill
      "Marital interest" is not a legal concept or rule in any jurisdiction I am aware of. Consult with a lawyer in your state who has family law experience to learn more about your rights and liabilities.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2011
    Linda
    My spouse has bad credit because of his previous foreclosure history before we got married. We want to buy a house now. If I buy the house under my name and I think only my credit will be mattered. But will bank be ok if I use his money by moving his money to my bank account? Thanks.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Oct, 2011
      Bill
      Underwriters may require the down payment be "seasoned" in your bank account. In this context, seasoning means the money appears in the account in question over three or four monthly statements. Transfer the money to an account in your name now.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    bonnie
    I would like to add an authorized user to my credit card. I have read a lot of things back and forth and need clarity on the current status of these things. (1.) will adding someone with poor credit as on authorized user on my cc hurt my credit? (2.)does my excellent credit history and on time payments of his authorized card use help his credit at all? Thank you!
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      This is called piggybacking in the trade. If the account is strong (a long history of on-time payments and low credit utilization) the authorized user will receive a boost to their credit score. If the account is weak (late payment history and/or maxed-out credit utilization), the authorized user will see their credit score dragged down. The "energy," positive or negative, flows in one direction only: From the account to the authorized user. The authorized user's credit history does not impact the account or the account owner. You are solely responsible for any charges you or the authorized user make on the account.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    Tammy
    I have recently been discharged from a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. I have built great credit for my 23 yr old son in the last few years and was hoping that he could add me as an authorized user to these accounts so that my credit could start being built back quickly as possible. Yesterday he called the first CC Company for a major home repair retailer and they actually ran a credit check on me. I would have never allowed this but was unaware. Of course they declined due my credit report at this time. I was not aware that these companies would run a credit report on a person being added as an auth. user, is this a standard policy? We are actually hoping to purchase my home of 26 yrs back jointly from a family member as soon as possible therefore building my credit up quickly as possible is imperative.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      First time I have heard of a credit card issuer running a credit check to add an authorized user. There is no law that I am aware of that prohibits such a practice.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    Paul
    I added my wife as an authorized user on a couple credit cards of mine that had a spotty payment history. I never gave the creditor her social, I simply requested a card in her name. This was 3 years ago. I have since paid most of my debt off and have not opened any new credit. I understand that my score is going to slowly climb. Her score is being negatively impacted by my not so good credit history. How can I fix this? I feel it is unfair to her that she be punished with a lower score for my debt.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      What you described is called piggybacking in the trade. If the account has a positive credit history, the person added as an authorized user will see a net positive effect on their credit score. On the other hand, if the account is problematic — delinquent payments and maxed-out credit line — the authorized user will see their credit score decrease. Fair or not, that is the way piggybacking works.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    Craig
    My wife and I began looking into refinancing our home mortgage. As we began to shop around, it quickly became apparent that her credit rating was poor. Mine is okay--not sparkling, but good enough that I was able to move ahead with refinancing individually moving away from a joint mortgage as our current mortgage stands. Since her credit is currently poor, what affect will this refinancing have on it? Will taking her name off the mortgage plunge her credit score even lower since the mortgage has always been paid on time and kept in good standing?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      The positive history for your current mortgage will remain on your wife's credit report, continuing to bolster her score, but it will get less weight as time goes by. The fact that the new mortgage will not include her means, as you stated, that the new mortgage's timely payment will not help her. She needs to take the proper steps to improve her credit score.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    Kole
    Several years ago my wife went to a medical clinic. They promised her a certain rate (verbally) and then quadrupled it when the written bill was issued. It has been in collections since. Recently a collector called me and I offered to settle but not for the outrageous rate they are now asking. Now I see that this adverse account has been added to my credit report, even though I had no part in the original bill-- not with the doctor visit, not with the insurance, and not as a co-signer in any other sort of way. Can they legally do this?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      It may or may not be legal. You need to speak to an attorney and find out if your state's interpretation of the doctrine of necessaries makes you liable for the debt.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2011
    Richard
    I received a Debt Mediation Notice in the mail the other day claiming I had an estimated owed balanced between $30,000 - $40,000. Immediately, I laughed assuming it was some kind of scam to get me to sign up with some company. So I checked my free credit score and, to my sheer horror, I see that it has $33,500 of revolving debt owed to Bank of America due to a credit card. I don't own any credit cards! I called my parents asking if they knew what was going on, and it turns out that I was authorized, nearly 10 years ago, to use their credit card for gas and groceries if I needed it. ...I'm just blown away. All of their debt is now mine?! How could this happen? I have never signed my name to any responsibility -- no contracts, nothing! I just assumed they were authorizing me to use their card for emergencies, not signing me on as a partner with the account. As far as my mother knows, this is exactly what she did -- simply authorized me to use the card! What can I possibly do about this? How should I go about dealing with this problem?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      Authorized users are not liable for debts on the accounts they were authorized to use. However, if you were a joint-cardholder, you would be responsible.

      Just because a debt collector tries to collect from you does not mean you owe the debt.

      Start by validating the debt. Don't panic. From what you wrote, you were only an authorized user and will not be held financially responsible for the debt.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2011
    summer
    SO i am stuck in a very strange situation... I just graduated med school. still looking to match into residency. hopefully this year, fingers crossed. im drowning in a HUGE amount of medical school debt, as most of us usually are. ( 6 figures to be precise) My fiance ( almost), who is not in the medical field, but is making a 6-figure salary himself, in texas, is a having a huge problem with my debt. He believes that it should be paid off BEFORE we get married. He knows that my loan will not become his responsibility, but says that if we were to go and buy a house or car etc, that my credit/debt would be looked at and would hurt matters. That, even if we were to buy it on his name ONLY, my credit/debt would still be looked at and affect us negatively. How true is this? Also: 1. how am i supposed to pay it off such a huge amount of debt before residency? ( He knows I am applying and trying to get residency and after residency will have no problem paying it off) 2. My debt will not affect him and his finances as far as i am concerned and from the research i have done, correct? 3. Fortunately, if worse case scenario hits, I have family who have savings and will have no problem helping me pay it off later, if I ever need the help. They are my back-up, in a worse case scenario. BUT he insists I have my family pay it off NOW before we get married, or else we dont get married...does that even make sense? What kind of demand is that? 4. I kinda feel he wants the loan/debt to be gone so that when i do start making a decent living, it will go towards our common bank account, which would benefit him too. Meaning I kinda feel hes all about the money, rather than marrying me for me..? Doesnt it kinda sound like that too?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Aug, 2011
      Bill
      Your question is not unusual at all. You mentioned Texas, and I will assume you plan to marry and/or reside in Texas. Your quasi-fiancé may, or may not be correct about the status of each spouse's pre-marital debt. Some states — including Texas, California, and eight others — are community property states. Each community property state answers the premarital debt question differently, and I confess I do not know the answer for Texas. If Texas is like California (and again, I do not know if this is true), the marital community becomes liable for each spouse's separate debt at the moment the marriage license is accepted by the county clerk. Consult with a Texas family lawyer, or a lawyer in the state you plan to reside, to learn the spousal debt liability rules.

      A spouse can buy real property and qualify for a mortgage or deed of trust without involving the other spouse in the transaction. In other words, just because a person is married, does not mean they need to apply for a joint loan. Similarly, the spouse applying for a loan can have sky-high credit and a rock-bottom debt-to-income ratio and be approved for a loan, while his or her spouse has terrible credit, and astronomical debt. On to your questions:
      1. A rhetorical question. Here is my rhetorical answer: Do not get married until your debts are resolved.
      2. As discussed above, in some states, a spouse may have liability for the other spouse's debts.
      3. Only you can answer this question. One thought is to agree to an ante-nuptial agreement whereby you will not hold your spouse liable should you divorce. This agreement is not binding on third parties, but it will clarify how each spouse intends to take responsibility for their debt should they split up.
      4. Joint accounts create more problems than they solve. Should you marry or co-habitate with your quasi-fiancé, open separate accounts at the same bank or credit union. If you need to share funds, use the bank or credit unions account-to-account transfer mechanism to do so.

      Marriage consists of two parts. One is romantic, which is fodder for popular culture we all see daily. It is also a state-approved contract between two people. You may be seeing only the former, and your quasi-fiancé is seeing only the later. Neither perspective is wrong, but each alone is incomplete.

      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jul, 2011
    Melanie
    My parents are in a tough situation, they are 71 years old, started their marriage out at 16 and for most of their first 20 years only had joint credit. My mom soon realized that she would need to build some type of credit for herself. My dad then started a business and did well for many years, the economy turned upside down the company began using credit cards personal and business to try to keep it afloat. He is ready to shut the business down but has $150,000 in credit card debt, tried to get a consolidation loan, but they are requiring he pays certain debt that my dad co-signed for for my sister via the business. He will not be able to pay what he needs to pay off in order to retire. He has decided to let his credit cards go rather than to try and continue to pay them at 71 yrs old, at this time his credit is great as he has continued to rob from peter to pay paul. My mom is wondering if he lets all of his credit go, will she be able to hold onto her cards as long as they are paid on time, etc.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jul, 2011
      Bill
      If your mom holds her own accounts separately from your dad, she should be fine; his credit turning sour will not cause creditors to take negative actions against your mom. If she is listed on any of his accounts that go delinquent, she will suffer harm on her credit and be subject to collections. SHe should be able to use the cards she has on her won without a problem.

      Your dad should speak to both a debt settlement firm and a bankruptcy attorney, given the size of the debt he owes, in my opinion.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jul, 2011
    Eli
    My husband abd I have been married less than a year. He came into the marriage with debt and also has continued to rack up back child support. We have a checking account together and I signed for a loan with him a secondary because his credit was so bad. We filed separate taxes last year. I would like to know whether his (1) prior debt affects me since I have a loan now and whether his back child support will become my financial responsibility or affect my credit. I live in AR and he has child support from IA and NC. Also if he defaults on a loan (car he had repossessed) will that fall on me to pay or reflect in my credit. Thanks.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jul, 2011
      Bill
      First, abandon or close any joint accounts immediately, and maintain separate accounts under separate Social Security numbers at the same bank or credit union. Use that institution's online funds-transfer mechanism to move funds back and forth between your accounts as necessary. In this case, a joint account is a ticking time bomb that will go off at the most inconvenient time when a judgment-creditor or a state agency responsible for collecting the delinquent child support levies the account.

      Second, Arkansas is a common law state when it comes to family law, so unlike in a community property state, each spouse's separate debts remain that way.

      Third, there is no such thing as a marital credit score. You can have an 800+ credit score, and your spouse can have a 500 score, and the two will not merge. However, if you with the 800 score start adopting some of your spouse's financial habits, then you will see a drop in your score.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jun, 2011
    antonia
    I have a credit card, but my credit score is bad due to bankruptcy, I added my daughter as joint credit card so she can start make credit, due to my bad credit can she get bad credit also?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jun, 2011
      Bill
      If you make your required payments on time, for the account that you are sharing with your daughter, she will be helped and not harmed. She is not tied to the bankruptcy that you filed, by sharing the other account with you.

      Both you and your daughter should read about how to improve your credit score.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Mar, 2011
    leeanna
    My fiance has large debts. I have heard that in California, when 2 people are married and a one person dies, the other spouse becomes responsible for the debts from the dead spouse, regardless of how those debts were acquired.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Mar, 2011
      Bill
      You mentioned you reside in California. California is a “community property” state, which means that many assets and obligations of one partner created during a marriage become “community” assets or obligations. This can mean that one spouse can be held liable for many of the debts of the other spouse even if his or her name is not on the accounts which resulted in the debts. (The other community property states are Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin and have similar, though not identical rules to the one I just cited.)

      If the spouses now live in a community property state, or lived in one at the time the consumer debt account (such as a credit card account) was opened, the non-signing spouse may have incurred liability without signing a credit contract as co-debtor. If the debt incurred during your marriage was used for the benefit of both members of the marriage, liability may accrue to the non-signing spouse in community property states.

      Debts that your fiancee incurred prior to your marriage are not his or her sole responsibility. See California Family Code Section 910(a), which reads in part:

      Except as otherwise expressly provided by statute, the community estate is liable for a debt incurred by either spouse before or during marriage, regardless of which spouse has the management and control of the property and regardless of whether one or both spouses are parties to the debt or to a judgment for the debt.

      In other words, under California family law, community funds may be reached by a judgment-creditor to satisfy a pre-marital debt.

      Regarding your question about community debt and death, the answer is dependent on the facts. In community property states in general, a surviving spouse may be held liable for the debt if the decedent's estate is unable to pay the debt. However, consult with a lawyer who has community property law to learn answers specific to your situation. You are not yet married, so you may wish to consider a pre-nuptial agreement, which may help address this situation.

      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      May, 2011
      Connie
      My husband acquired a home in KS prior to our marriage. My name is not on the title or the deed. We have since moved and currently have great credit. If we allow the first house to go into foreclosure (job relocation) would this negatively impact my credit later on? I know his would be bad, but how much would this affect mine? Thoughts are we would borrow against my credit and work on rebuilding his. Two mortgages are terrible!
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      May, 2011
      Bill
      There is no such thing as a "community" or "marital" credit score. If you are not a party to the Kansas mortgage, then a foreclosure, short sale, or continued on-time monthly payments will have absolutely no impact on your credit credit score.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2010
    Kacy
    My husband has several credit cards all in good standing but carry a fairly high balance. I suppose I'm an authorized user, but never signed anything. When I checked my credit report, it showed several of these cards. Should I or could I get these removed?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Oct, 2010
      Bill
      If you are an authorized user, then your spouse must remove you from the account. If you are not an authorized user or a co-signatory, then you may dispute these incorrect derogatory entries on your credit report. You will, however, have to write the credit reporting agencies to file a dispute. The credit card issuer may or may not remove the derogatory information from your credit report on its own accord after your spouse removes you as an authorized user.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2011
      BestMommie
      My husband added me to his credit card accounts when we got married but I never signed anything and he didn't give them my social, although they asked for it but he said he didn't want to add me in that way, he just gave them my name and they sent me a card. Those accounts are now past due and with debt collectors. I myself had okay credit beforehand but now all of his debts are showing up on my credit report. Can I dispute this and will it raise my score? I don't think he can take me off of them because the accounts have been closed, can he?
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2010
    Tammy
    I just applied for a personal loan at the local credit union in WIsconsin. I have a credit score of 754 and was denied the personal loan because they said it was state law that they HAVE to pull up my husbands credit. All items on is credit report are prior to getting married. I can buy a house with out his credit being considered by not a personal loan??? Makes no sense..
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2010
    Bill
    Wisconsin has a so-called tattle-tale law requiring Spouse B to be notified if Spouse A applies for a loan. As I read Wisconsin's family laws statute, I do not see a requirement that both spouse's credit scores must be included when one spouse applies for a loan. The lender seems to have set more stringent requirements for a personal loan, which is not unreasonable. Shop for a loan elsewhere.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2010
    James
    Interesting ! this is a wonderful article, what I am searching for. This is one of the most interesting and useful information for us. Thank you.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2010
    Bill
    If you moved to Illinois, you should change your ID to reflect your new residence. Perhaps living in Illinois, which is not a community property state, will do away with any requirements to include your wife on credit applications that may have been present in Wisconsin, which is a community property state. Your credit rating should not be affected by accounts held solely in your spouse's name. Regarding your question about buying a house, if you need both you and your spouse's income to qualify for the loan, then a joint application is going to be necessary. If you have enough income to qualify for the loan on your own, you should not have to include your spouse on the application.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2010
    terry
    I just got married but my wife has bad credit we live in IL but I still have a mailing add and WI ID because of that i need to have my wife listed on all credit apps if i changed my address and ID to IL would that keep her credit from hurting my score on a credit app? my next question is if we are both from IL and try buying a home in WI will WI still make us do a joint app ?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2010
    Bill
    Generally speaking, adding your name to the title of the home will not change any of the terms or conditions of the mortgage loan. With regards to the credit cards, I cannot say for certain whether adding your name will change the terms of the credit cards. However it may be safe to assume that it might not, but your best bet is to ask the credit card companies directly if his accounts will be affected.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2010
    Amber
    I am getting Married this Fall and My Fiance is wanting to add my name on the deed to his house as well as put my name on all of his Credit Cards and the mortgage loan. He has excellent credit and my is not so hot. Will this effect his interest rates or anything like that, if he adds my name and information to the accounts?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2010
    CARRIE
    I live in Wisconsin and I am married. My credit is worse than my husbands and we keep everything separate. However I just applied for a credit card and put that I was married and gave my husband's name. I didn't give his ssn. He got a letter in the mail stating that I had taken out this card. I am wondering if this account will show up on his credit report. Thank you.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2010
    Bill
    As I mentioned in an earlier reply, Wisconsin's so-called "Tattletale Notice" as set forth in Wisconsin statute Section 766.56(3)(b) required that when a married person applies for a loan, the lender is required to notify the non-applicant spouse of the contract. Therefore, it is customary in Wisconsin for lenders to require that spouses reveal the contact information for non-applicant spouses. However, Wisconsin's Section 766.56(3)(b) is a state law, and the Fair Credit Reporting Act is federal and controls the behavior of the credit reporting agencies. The FCRA is separate from Wisconsin's laws. Even in Wisconsin, one spouse can have excellent credit and the other terrible credit and there will be no merging of credit scores if there are no joint accounts. One spouse's separate accounts will not appear on the other's.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jun, 2010
    Bill
    1) Yes, you can apply separately for a loan before or after applying for a loan jointly. 2) No, not in California. Wisconsin is the only state I know of where there is a virtual requirement to supply the credit information from both spouses. 3) No, but the reverse is true for spouses. Adding her as an authorized user on one of your credit cards will boost her score.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jun, 2010
    Mike
    I think I know the answers to my questions based on the Q&A here but just want to make sure... My spouse and I both work full time. My credit score is 796, no credit issues. My spouse of 2 years is around 600 with 6 collections from 5 years ago, 2 resolved and 4 outstanding. We want to purchase a home and I'm concerned that the lower score will impact the rate we get offered. If we apply together and her score impacts our rate, do I later have the option to apply alone? If I initially apply alone, will they ask me for my spouses information as well anyway (CA residents)? Does adding her as a co-user to my good credit cards hurt my credit in any way? Thank you so much. Scary stuff, so glad people out here are willing to help.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    May, 2010
    rose
    Also, make sure to get a free financial health check-up with Bills IQ! -------------------- rose
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    May, 2010
    Adam
    Re John. Your wife's plan to not pay her credit cards is financially probably an unwise move. How much is the debt? The amount doesn't matter, a negative mark is a negative mark. If you're defaulting on a $500k CA underwater mortgage, that may make sense. Defaulting on $10k in credit card debt? Is it worth trashed credit for at least 7-10 years? Also, a joint account is fair game to creditors. They can take control of the account after lawsuit to get back as much as they can. Keep accounts separate if you plan on gaming the system.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    May, 2010
    Bill
    As I wrote earlier, there is no "marital credit score." Each person has their own, separate credit report and score. Spouse A can have an 800 score, and Spouse B can be 500, and the two will never merge if they avoid sharing or creating a joint credit account. Here, if there are no shared credit accounts where both parties gave the creditors their social security numbers, there will be no merging of credit scores. Regarding the first clause in your first sentence, read the Bills.com resource Debt Relief Options: Which is Right for You? to gain an understanding of the positive steps your spouse can take to resolve the debt.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    May, 2010
    John
    My wife is planning in not paying her credit card to save money, is that will affect my good credit? We already been married for 3 years and have some joint car loan before but already been paid off and the account is closed. We are banking together but not sharing any credit card or any authorized account user other that a cellphone account. Please help
    1 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2010
    Bill
    There is no "marital credit score." Each person has their own, separate credit report and score. Spouse A can have an 800 score, and Spouse B can be 500, and the two will never merge if they avoid sharing or creating a joint credit account. Here, if you and your spouse-to-be keep your accounts separate your credit report and score will remain unaffected after your wedding day.
    1 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2010
    lisa
    so can I marry someone in Wisconsin with bad credit and not worry about it affecting my good credit as long as we keep things separate?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2010
    Bill
    Consider a "secured credit card." See the Bills.com resource Secured Credit Card and Credit Score to learn more. If you live in a community property state, then you may have liability for your husband's debt. See Marriage and Debt Payments to learn more.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2010
    Fotomaya
    My husband has a poor credit score and he added me as an authorized user in one of his credit cards without telling me. When I found out, he removed my name but the damage was done. I always get declined whenever I apply for a credit card even in department stores. Also, it shows in my credit report that there is a $500.00 balance on that credit card. Am I supposed to pay that? But I don't have the card or the account. You see, Im new in the country and I am just starting to get everything in place. What should I do in terms of credit history and any other alternatives to get approved on credit cards? Thank you.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2010
    Bill
    Yes, it will. Please see my answer to a fellow reader with a similar question: Improve Your Credit.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2010
    Dina
    I started building my credit score early 2008 by having a secure card. Then my husband added me as an authorized user to one of his credit card. Do you think my credit score will be affected (lower) if I close out my secure card account? Thank you
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2009
    Bill
    You are on the right track. When your credit score was good and your spouse's was poor, you did a wise thing by adding him as an authorized user. Now you need to do the same thing in reverse. Remove him as an authorized user on your card and ask him to add you as an authorized user to one of his healthy credit cards. Neither you nor your spouse may see an overnight change to your scores, but there should be a change in 60-90 days.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2009
    Mou
    My credit score was great when I added my husband as an authorized user to a couple of my credit cards. Since then, due to some life changing events, my credit has been destroyed. His credit is a little better than mine (and currently other than 1 unpaid medical bill, he has no unpaid credit card bills). Do you think if I remove him from my credit cards as an authorized user, it would raise his credit score? Thank you.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2009
    Bill
    Regarding your first question, states do not set the requirements for people getting a mortgage. The lenders have their own requirements, and I'm not aware of any state that requires both spouses to reveal their credit history when applying for a mortgage. Regarding your second question, if you are a co-signer on your husbands credit card(s) you can have access to the transaction records. However, if you are not a co-signer or a joint account holder, I would be surprised if his credit card company even gave you the time of day.

    Update: When I answered the above question, I was ignorant of Wisconsin's so-called "Tattletale Notice" as set forth in Wisconsin statute Section 766.56(3)(b). In Wisconsin, when a married person applies for a loan, the lender is required to notify the non-applicant spouse of the contract. Therefore, it is customary in Wisconsin for lenders to require that spouses reveal the contact information for non-applicant spouses. As a result, it is not surprising that lenders will run a credit check on the non-applicant spouse to get a more complete picture of the household's financial health.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2009
    A2
    I live in Wisconsin and my spouse's credit history is always checked by banks and credit unions when I apply for loans, etc. as an individual. I have been told that his lower credit rating will affect my mortgage rates when I take out a home loan. Are some states more restrictive than in the scenario you descrive above? Also: I just discovered he's gone on a spending spree (because the credit union pulled his report when I was in today conducting business. I was quite surprised. As a spouse in a common property state, do I have the right to get greater specifics on his credit card transactions?
    0 Votes